The Arkansas Arts Center put out a press release yesterday crowing about the fact that it has ended the first six months of the fiscal year in the black, and the board of directors' finance committee heard from the Arts Center Deputy Director of Operations Laine Harber that the center has $600,000 in the bank. "The need for caution is not eliminated," Harber said, but the news is good.
The unusual press release might have been a response to an article in November in the Democrat-Gazette that said the Arts Center's revenues weren't keeping up with its budget. The story had some Arts Center folks, sensitive to press about its delicate finances, in a tizzy.
They are tizzing no more, thanks to generous gifts in December (which ended $61,367 ahead of budget) and continued frugality at the Arts Center, which cut administrators pay last year by 7 percent, abandoned in-house marketing (saving the cost of three positions) and, Director Todd Herman said, asked its departments to do more with less. "We are starting to see a turnaround," Herman said.
Some of the $600,000 is restricted to upcoming exhibits, including the "Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Gainsborough: The Treasures of Kenwood House, London" show that will open June 7.
Arkansas board chair Chucki Bradbury said the report was the best "since Todd Herman arrived."
Still, the development budget of a little more than $1.8 million is only 45 percent of the way toward that figure at the half-way point in the year, due to the reallocation of donations to Tabriz sponsorships, expected gifts budgeted but not yet received, some decline in corporate giving, etc. Giving by individuals is ahead of the game however, at $356,715 toward its goal of $527,590. Tabriz is budgeted to gross $600,000 and net $350,000, of which $200,000 would go to operations and $150,000 to the Arts Center Foundation for art acquisitions. Tabriz dollars met those expectations in both 2009 and 2011.
The board had another thing to brag about: A book on the artist Mark Rothko that includes a forward and introduction by Herman was named the sixth best art book of the year by the Huffington Post. The book, "Mark Rothko: The Decisive Decade 1940-1950," was written to accompany an exhibit that will originate at the Columbia Museum of Art, where Herman was director until his hiring here. (The show was organized by the Arkansas Art Center, the Columbia Museum of Art, the Columbus Museum of Art and the Denver Art Museum, in conjunction with the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and will come here in 2014.)
Herman's role is to set the stage for Rothko's movement into color as content, noting the artists who influenced him, including Titian, Max Weber and Milton Avery. Christopher Rothko, the artist's son; National Gallery curator Harry Cooper, Rothko expert David Anfram and Bradford Collins of the University of South Carolina write the following chapters. How could you not want this book? For more information about it, read here and here; to order from Amazon go here, or better yet, buy it at the Arts Center.
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